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Friday, September 22, 2017

PERIMETER PLAYER SKILL DEVELOPMENT

The following comes from a lecture I gave at A Step Up Assistant Coaching Symposium several years ago.

2 GOALS FOR PERIMETER SKILL DEVELOPMENT

GOAL #1: Improve and stretch the skill of the individual player
                  Technique: proper execution is critically important in all drills

“Be a skill coach, not a drill coach.”
-Coach Don Meyer

 Overload Drills: must take players out of their comfort zone to stretch them

GOAL #2: Improve skills related to offensive system of play for your team
1. What does your team need for your players to do well?
2. Don’t improve a skill you don’t need

CONCEPT #1: Don’t just work on your players’ weaknesses — stretch and further develop their strengths.

CONCEPT #2: Maximize individual workout time...don’t just work on fundamentals, work on relationships.

CONCEPT #3: Measure when you can...stats can help.

CONCEPT #4: Always utilize video when possible.

CONCEPT #5: Sometimes skill development needs to be in a team setting as opposed to individual.

CONCEPT #6: Singleness of purpose will create quicker improvement, confidence.

CONCEPT #7: “Catch them doing something right.” -Don Meyer

CONCEPT #8: Break down the whole and create a part-method drill.


In developing solid perimeter play, we want to first look for and then develop the following characteristics:

1. SHE MUST HAVE GOOD VISION
Vision is a very encompassing matter. A good perimeter player does more than just see her teammates, she also sees the defense. This particular type of vision allows the good perimeter player to make the proper decisions with the basketball.

2. SHE MUST UNDERSTAND HER STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
A good perimeter player knows what she does well and works hard to get in position to take advantage of those skills and fundamentals. Just as important however, is the fact that a good perimeter player knows what her limitations are, her weaknesses, and stays away from them.

3. SHE KNOWS HER TEAMMATES STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES
This is very difficult for the average perimeter player, and in fact, it is a rare quality usually found in the best perimeter players. That special type of perimeter player knows who the best shooters are on the team and tries to get them the ball when they are open. She knows who the best posters are and feeds them the ball. She knows who has trouble dribbling the ball and doesn’t pass them the ball when it might put them in a dribbling situation.

4. SHE MIXES AGGRESSIVENESS WITH PATIENCE
The good perimeter player knows when to push the ball up and when to hold it up. She knows when to attack the basket and when to reverse the ball. She is prepared to play at whatever speed is necessary for her team to be successful.

5. SHE IS HARD TO GUARD
A good perimeter player is constantly working to get open and at the same time occupy her defender. She understands that she must move with a purpose, because she must never confuse “activity for achievement.”

6. SHE IS STRONG WITH THE BALL
Whether she is dribbling, passing, or holding the ball, she is going to be strong. She is not going to let the defender rush her into a mistake.

7. COMPOSURE—COMPOSURE—COMPOSURE!!!
The best perimeter players never let anything upset them. They don’t let the crowd affect their play; they don’t let the other team affect their play; and they don’t let any breakdowns by their teammates affect their play.

8. SHE MUST BE PHYSICALLY STRONG
We want players that are warriors in the weight room. This is an area that you as a coach must be committed to as much as the players.  Players know what is important to a coaching staff. Working hard in the weight room doesn’t mean that we are interested in huge muscle bound athletes. We are interested in developing upper body strength and explosiveness from the lower body.

9. SHE MUST BE AN EXCELLENT CONDITIONED ATHLETE
We expect our perimeter players to be able to outrun the opposing perimeter players down the court for fast break opportunities. And, just as important, we expect our perimeter players to be able to outrun the opposing perimeter players and be in good defensive position in defensive transition. In our motion offense, our perimeter players are constantly moving. We are always telling them, “be hard to guard.” All of this demands a supremely physically conditioned athlete.

10. SHE MUST BE A SMART PLAYER
We expect our perimeter players to be able to “think” the game. Again, because of our motion offense, our perimeter players are expected to constantly make decisions while on the floor. When and who to screen, when to pass, and when to dribble are just some of the instant decisions we expect them to make. Equally, because we utilize scouting reports, they must know which particular player they are defending and how to defend them.

11. SHE MUST POSSESS A GREAT WORK ETHIC
Obviously, to be a warrior in the weight room, a supremely physically conditioned athlete, and a mentally prepared basketball player, you must first possess a great work ethic. We demand a lot from a our perimeter players and the truly good ones are not afraid to work. To be a top-flight player, a good work ethic is a year round necessity.

Monday, September 18, 2017

4TH AND GOAL EVERY DAY

I've enjoyed reading 4th And Goal Every Day by Phil Savage.  Savage isn't just a writer -- he is a former NFL assistant coach and general manager who has worked with some of the games best coaches.  Add to that his current position as radio color analyst for Alabama football and you have a very unique set of eyes on the Crimson Tide football program and the championship philosophy of Nick Saban.  Savage chose the title 4th And Goal Every Day because he felt it summed up the mindset in the Bama program -- a constant sense of urgency.

For me, I was especially drawn to the sections of the book that dealt with recruiting and player and team development.  Not surprisingly they go hand-in-hand:
Alabama does not care so much "what" a high school player is doing on the field.  It cares more about "how" a player is doing it.  There is a big difference.  What he is doing might look dominant against high school players, but how he is doing it -- athleticism, instinct, explosiveness -- might show his further potential.
Nick Saban would rather take a guy with "tools" in his body that have not yet bloomed over a high school player who is "an effort guy" making twenty-five tackles through willpower.  Saban thinks he can coach the player with tools so that his pure ability will allow him to far surpass the results of the overachiever with limited skills.
As for player development, it should surprise no one that a big key of Bama's success is the structure of their practice:
Recruiting is significant, but what they do best at Alabama is player development.  Talk to any NFL scout and he will tell you that the Alabama practice field resembles a pro camp more than any other college program in the country.  The drills and techniques being taught in Tuscaloosa are the same ones used during the week by NFL players who slip on the pads for the Sunday games.  The Crimson Tide soaks its players in film work, fundamentals, repetition, and patience.
If you love football, this is an outstanding book with Savage going into the details of teaching, coaching, evaluating and giving great stories to support those areas.  But it's also a great book for coaches who want an inside look at one of the best. 

FUNDAMENTALS ARE FUNDAMENTALS

Got this via an email from Greg Eubanks last week.  I know Greg through my relationship with Coach Don Meyer. Greg played for Coach Meyer from 1988-92 and as I told Greg, I know that Coach is looking down and smiling at his comparison of baseball to basketball fundamentals!


Breakdown drills - a starting infielder in MLB is working on fielding grounders and he starts from his knees. Crossover: do the shooting progression

at :42 - Line everything up - "once you cross your body you've got no control" (at 2:15). Crossover: Get your wrist, elbow, knee and toe all lined up on your shot

at 1:05 - Details matter - How he gets the ball out of his glove, where the ball sits in his glove makes the difference in getting an out or not. Crossover - Details matter - it's the difference in winning and losing

at 1:00 - Look at the intensity in which he practices, the exaggeration with his eyes and hands

at 4:12 - "It's a process. It doesn't happen in a couple of days."  Crossover - You don't become a great shooter or ballhandler overnight or by only doing it every few days. It's a process that takes work and you'll see results but it may not be for a while.

at 8:06 - Why do we do drills? We isolate skills and when we carry that over to the 5/5 is when the magic happen.

at 10:55 - If you practice the skills you'll be ready for the games and you can play aggressive and make plays. "Play wide open with our minds and wide open with our athletic ability"

You think Ozzie is in the MLB just by chance? He's talented but that's just one factor.
 There's lots of talented guys who never come close the MLB.  He's also coachable, pays attention to details, and works hard. 

What are your goals and what are you doing to achieve them? What's holding you back?


Thursday, September 14, 2017

GARY BLAIR COACHING ACADEMY JUMP DRIVE FOR PURCHASE

We've had a lot of request for information on the Gary Blair Coaching Academy information and if it would be available to those coaches who could not attend.  It has been a tradition of our to make as much of the materials available as possible.

This year, for $40, you will receive a jump drive that will have video of each of the presentations along with all the passouts the coaches made available while speaking.  

Click here for more ordering information.


In addition, there will be the following:

Aggie Offensive Playbook
Aggie Defensive Drill Booklet
Aggie Man to Man Defense Booklet
Passout on the Aggie Point Zone Defense
Passout on Aggie Scouting Guidelines

There will be also 50 set of clinic notes taken from other clinics from coaches such as Hubie Brown, Bob Knight, Roy Williams, Sherri Coale, Geno Auriemma, Pat Summitt, Don Meyer and many more.

Also included will be over 30 articles on coaches such Bill Parcells, Nick Saban, Rick Majerus and many more.

The video  segments include the following speakers along with their topics:

Mike Neighbors - Green Light Shooting Program
Mike Neighbors - Teaching and Motivating the iY Generation
Gary Blair - Aggie Man to Man Offense
Kelly Bond-White - Aggie Primary/Secondary Break
Amy Wright - Perimeter Player Development
Bob Starkey - Good Things I've Learned Along the Way
Bob Starkey - Aggie Shell Defense Series

Plus a complete Texas A&M basketball practice.

Any additional questions? Email me at: rstarkey@athletics.tamu.edu



THE OPPORTUNITY TO PURSUE EXCELLENCE

In a few weeks I'll be speaking at the PGC/Glazier Coaching Clinic in Dallas.  I have two segments and my last one is titled: "Don Meyer - Lessons Learned from a Legacy Left."  I've spent the last few days rereading Buster Olney's great book on Coach Meyer, "How Lucky You Can Be," and came across a passage back in the acknowledgments that I'm going to share with my team today:
"I first met Don Meyer when I was twenty-four years old and a first-year reporter at the Nashville Banner.  Meyer's practices were always open to the public, and so, once or twice a week, I would sit in and watch and listen. When the team met in a classroom before of after practices, I would take a seat in the back.  The underlying message that I heard him present to his players -- that every single day provided you with the opportunity to pursue excellent or not -- resonated with me from a young age."

Monday, September 11, 2017

DON MEYER'S TEAM TRADEMARKS

The following is a list create by Coach Don Meyer on what he wanted the "trademarks" of his team to be.  Do you have a list of what you want your team to stand for?

1. TEAM ATTITUDE (WE BEFORE ME) 
Love for each other 
Unselfish 
Trustworthy 
Huddles on the floor 
Clean locker-room 
Help teammates up 
Wipe up floor 
Sprint off floor 
Disciplined Know Roles 

2. SERVANTHOOD / STEWARDSHIP 
Courteous / Polite 
Picking up trash 
Sportsmanship
 Respect for the game / Opponents
 Doing the next right thing right 
Helping Keith

3. TOUGHNESS (NEVER OUT HUSTLED, NEVER OUT THOUGHT) 

4. FUNDAMENTALS 
Defense 
Offense 
Transition and Talk 
Sureness 
Stance, Vision, Position, 
Talk 
Triple Threat 
Ball Pressure 
LBBBOS 
On and up the line 
Doleac 
Closeouts 
Feeding the post 
High hands --- Hand Above Ball 
Cut and space 
Shot pressure 
Drive and space 
BOPCRO 
Follow through 

5. STUDENTS / TEACHERS OF THE GAME 
Notebooks 
Camp 
Active and teaching bench 

6. COMMUNICATION 
System of talk 
Echo yells 
Posts demand the ball 

7. CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT (KAIZEN) 
Sense of urgency 
Warm-ups 
Buying-in 
Attention to detail 
Red Team workouts

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

TIM ELMORE'S iY GENERATION

During one of the stops along the way during the July recruiting period, Joni Taylor told me of Tim Elmore and his work in communicating and leading millennials also know as the Y Generation.  She told me of his book series titled "Habitudes."  She had so much passion in her voice I went back to the hotel that night and researched it.  Joni is someone I greatly admire and respect so when she says "you gotta check it out," I did.

I went to Elmore's website and purchased a series a books titled the "Coaching Millennial Athletes Bundle" which included the book "Generation iY."  Elmore refers the Y Generation as "iY Generation" because of their nature of their information gathering and communication through things such as their iPhones and iPads.

The book was amazing and is an absolute must read for those looking to maximize their ability to communicate and teach today's student athletes.  I took 30 pages of notes from the book. 

Elmore goes in great detail to explain how this generation has evolved and then explains the positive and negative ramifications.  Better yet, he gives some concrete guidelines to assist us as coaches. 

For example, how important are our words and messages that we deliver to our team?  As Elmore explains:

"We need to remember that every time we stand in front of our own kids or a group of students, they are silently asking: Why should I listen to you? What do you have to offer me that’s different than the other options in my life?"
Understanding this requires thought and preparation when communication.

The most profound statement from Elmore and one that so many of us have a difficult time swallowing is:
"To connect and influence Generation iY, we’ll likely have to adjust to them."
Another concept that Elmore delves into is the one of the helicopter parent:
"Too many parents invest too much energy in protecting their children, and forget that their number-one job is to prepare their children for life without them. Parenting is ultimate leadership. A parent is the ultimate mentor in the life of their child."
And while this is true, we also see instances of the same philosophy and culture within athletic teams.  Sometimes we as coaches are swift to judge parents without looking that we are guilty of the same sins.

What we must understand is regardless of the facts, that we have inherited a different and unique generation to coach, the responsibility still relies on us to help steer them in the right direction.  I often speak at clinics and one of the things that I talk about is "don't be that coach that talks about how difficult it is to coach this generation."  In all honesty, all coaches could make this statement -- including the ones that coached us.  Be the answer.  Or as Elmore states:
"If we’re serious about transforming the world, we have to be serious about investing in this next generation.  What we do today as adults will no doubt determine who they will become as adults."

As I said, I took 30 pages of notes from this book.  I fully believe I am going to be a better coach for having read it and that's a powerful thing to say about a book.  In closing, here are a few more thoughts from Elmore on teaching:

Teaching must supply not only information, but inspiration for students.
Teaching must do more than measure a kid’s memory; it must motivate a kid’s imagination.
Teaching must cover not just the facts of history but the feelings that history produced.
Teaching should not just be about increasing intelligence, but also about increasing innovation.
Teaching cannot only be about what to think, but how to think.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

USING ANALYTICS TO CHART INTANGIBLES AT PRACTICE

There has been so much talk in recent years about analytics and how each of us utilize them to best benefit our program.  But I came across an article from last year about how Buzz Williams of Virginia Tech goes as far as charting intangibles in practice.  Here is an excerpt from the article in Collegiate Times written by Faizan Hasnany:

With the stakes as high as they had been all season, Buzz Williams and his staff didn’t let the moment distract them, relying on something that has been an integral part of Williams’ coaching philosophy since his earliest head coaching days at the University of New Orleans: data analytics.

“He’s been using (analytics) ever since I’ve known him. I would say since he’s been a coach, he’s been a numbers guy. He’s really, really smart and he’s really, really good with numbers,” said Devin Johnson, who worked with Williams as an undergraduate assistant at UNO, at Marquette and now as the Hokies' director of player personnel. “I would say he’s been using it since day one.”

Analytics are not just at the core of how the Hokies scout and prepare for other teams, but are used in everything that they do, from practices, to recruiting and everything in between.

“In practice we count touches. So if me and you high-five each other, how many touches did you have at the end of the day? We feel that your touches and your high-fives motivate your teammates to get through that practice,” Johnson said.

Bringing quantitative value to things like effort, communication and teamwork has allowed the Hokies’ coaching staff to objectively reward its players for those extra efforts. It has also helped to establish the tough and hard-working character for which Williams’ teams have always been known.


“At the end of each week, for practice, we have something called a belt winner,” Johnson said. “That comes from analytic numbers from the touches, from the dives on the floor, how much talking and how many times you put your hands on your knees, which shows signs of weakness, so we count that and that’s a negative analytic that we take into account.”

You can read the article in it's entirety here.

Monday, July 31, 2017

REGARDLESS OF SKILL & TALENT, ALL PLAYERS CAN DO THESE

This past month has been primarily an evaluation period for those in the college game with two full weeks travelling the country looking for players that best fit our Aggie family.  As someone that cares about the game, observing the competition in the summer can by uplifting or disappointing depending upon the team and players you are watching.  It's a lot of pressure on these young women because they know that a summer performance can often preclude their future options. 

Some players can be found doing too much.  At times players can play with the thought of trying to impress a coach and end up over doing it as opposed to doing what their team needs to do to play better.  Ironically, helping your team play at a higher level is more impressive to college coaches than individual performance.

During the summer, I found myself jotting down a few things that EVERY player could do to be better that had nothing to do with talent.  Things that regardless of their skill level, they could enhance their contribution by focusing on these areas:

1. Shot Fake and Pass Fake
Truly a lost art.  When's the last time you said to yourself, "that player is excellent as shot and pass fakes."  Of course part of the responsibility belongs to us as a coaches -- are we teaching and emphasizing it?  Few things can help an offensive player more than the proper use of a pass fake and a shot fake.

2. Know and Execute the Plays
Sounds a little silly saying "know the plays" but it's amazing to see a player or two who doesn't know where they are supposed to be or what they are supposed to being doing.  Whether is an inbounds plays, a half-court set, a motion entry or anything else structured, take the time to know where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to be doing.  Next is execution -- doing it when you are supposed to and as well as you can.  This does not take talent but commitment to knowing and understanding your team's playbook.

3. Play Hard
Again, seems like it shouldn't have to be said but it does.  And here is the key to playing hard -- you have to do it all the time...not just when your team's ahead or the play is called for you.  Playing hard means that you are making all your cuts in your offense hard.  It means that you are sprinting to screen.  It means that getting back on defense is a full speed proposition.

4. Have a Team First Attitude
Be the player constantly encouraging their teammates...picking them up both physically and emotionally when the time comes.  Don't be the player with the horrific body language when a teammate turns the ball over as if you were saying "I wouldn't have made that mistake."  If a played does make a mistake, correct it is a positive manner.

5. Understand Shot Selection
Forcing shots does not help your team nor does it impress a college coach.  Know what a good shot is for you -- and yes, your shot selection will vary from those of your teammates.  Don't hunt shots, let the shots find you.

6. Concentrate
As I heard Nick Saban once say, "Wherever your shoes are, be there."  Don't wonder mentally.  Stay focused to the job at hand.  Be a process oriented player.  Don't worry about the past play -- it's over.  Don't worry about a play in the future they may or may not happen.  All you can control is the current possession you are involved with -- give the possession complete concentration.

7. Be a Great Listener
This actually can do a long way to helping with concentration.  In timeouts are you locked in with your eyes and ears.  Does you coach have your complete attention.  There's a free throw situation and your coach or captain is barking out instructions.  Are you actually listening and processing or just hearing -- and there is a difference between listening and hearing.

8. Be in Great Shape
Without doing anything in regard to skill work...without saying anything about your talent level...you can make an impact on your team by being in great physical shape.  When the game is in the fourth quarter or late int he second half and everyone else is starting to drag, this is where you can make a difference.  Not only will you be a step faster because of your conditioning level, but you will be mentally sharper as well.  How many times have we seen a team put on a late run and in large part because of players that are in just better shape that run the floor and past their opponent.

9. Control Your Intangibles
Again, these have nothing to do with skill or talent but they are game changers.  The three areas that players can control (but often choose not to) are: attitude, energy, enthusiasm.  Now I'm not saying it is easy but if you want to make a difference in your team its well work working on.  By controlling your intangibles, I mean you don't let officiating, teammates, opponents, coaches, gym conditions or anything else effect you having a team-first attitude, with high energy and positive enthusiasm.

10. Be an Example
What do your teammates see when they see or think of you?  He or she is always early to the gym.  They stay late.  They are on time for meetings.  They listen to the coach.  They keep their composure.  Off the court they conducting themselves the right way.  They maintain a proper diet to put fuel in the tank.  They are positive talkers -- not criticizing a coach or gossiping about a teammate.

11.  Rebound
Some of the best rebounders are lacking in talent and athleticism -- they board well because of effort and tenacity.  Rebounding is one of the only areas in basketball where it's alright to selfish.  I've coached for over 35 years and have never heard of a coach taking a player out for rebounding too much!

I would imagine some of my coaching friends can add to this list but the key for players to understand is that every player can adopt these principles and it will make them a better player and their team a better team.  There's nothing on here that requires you to jump higher, run faster or have an amazing handle.  Be committed to areas that you can control and work towards being the best you can in those areas.